Trying the just released Leica M10-R

Leica M10-R Demo Model

As it happens, I was invited by Leica to attend the Leica M10-R release event July 16, 2020. With current COVID-19 restrictions also applying to this event, I joined a small group of people at the official Leica flagship store in Düsseldorf for the release event, that was streamed live on YouTube from Wetzlar.

Different from previous releases of new camera models, most of the relevant information was already spread on the internet weeks and days before through numerous leaks. But even Leica hinted at what was about to come on their website and social media channels. So it was quite interesting to see that even with this new marketing approach during the COVID-10 pandemic, there were still some surprised up Leica’s sleeve.

Unveiling the next Leica M10 family member
Unveiling the next Leica M10 family member

The store in Düsseldorf opened in late 2019 and is one of just two Leica stores operated by Leica itself, while all others are run as dealer partnerships. The new member of the M camera family was revealed in its lower floor art gallery that usually hosts Leica Akademie events in addition to the photography exhibitions. After a short presentation by Leica staff, the floor was opened for questions.

There was also room for testing the camera and discussing the details of the newly presented product innovations. For this the small group of attendees certainly was an advantage as it allowed for an extensive test drive of the camera for each one of us. Of course, during all of this, strict hygiene was observed with hand sanitisers, wipes and mandatory face masks.

What’s new about the Leica M10-R?

Most evidently the new Leica M10-R is very similar to all other M10 models released so far. In fact apart from the new sensor, it seems to have exactly the same specifications as the Leica M10-P with ultra silent shutter button, touch screen, level gauge etc. The new 40 megapixel sensor however was presented as a newly designed sensor, not as an adaptation of the recently released 40 mp M10-M sensor or Leica 47 mp Leica SL2 sensor. As a result, Leica says it compensated for the increased noise that usually comes with increasing the resolution of the sensor:

“Defying conventional wisdom, where increased resolution means sacrificing low-light performance, the M10-R boasts a much higher megapixel count over its 24 megapixel M10 brethren while also delivering lower levels of noise – ensuring it can be used in any and all environments for a wide range of photographic disciplines.”

Source: Leica Camera

The Leica M10-R supports the ISO range from 100 to 50,000 and is advertised as outperforming the M10 lineup in any aspect, allowing open aperture shooting even in bright daylight as well as long exposures of up to 16 minutes. This certainly extends the ability of the M lineup to be used for night sky photography and the like beyond the impressive cropping ability with the increased resolution that was demoed at the event.

Leica M10-R with Leica APO-Summicron-M 50mm f/2 ASPSH

Same as all other M camera, the Leica M10-R supports the full range of any Leica M lens ever produced and is compatible with the same accessories as all other M10 models. In many ways it felt like the crowning achievement of the M10 family before transitioning to a potential M11 at some point.

Under strict hygiene measures I was also allowed to try the M10-R that was mounted with a Leica APO-SUMMICRON-M 50 f/2 ASPH. It is a breathtakingly sharp and surprisingly compact lens, especially in comparison to my Leica Summilux-M 50 f/1.4 ASPH. The lens itself is not new, but it is one of the Crown Jewels of Leica’s current M lens lineup and so it was nice to take it for a spin in the gallery space.

Sensor size and file size

In comparison to the M10-P with its 24mp sensor and 24-32MB DNG file sizes, the size of the M10-R’s 7864 x 5200 pixel 40mp DNG files increased considerably and ranged between 42 to 50 MB in my test shots. Not that the spread in size makes any difference, but it might be worth considering when switching to higher resolution sensor system, as it certainly involves different requirements on storage, backup and also processing power. Also the JPG files straight out of the camera are ranged between 13 and 21 MB in my test shots.

Even with my late 2019 15″ MacBook Pro with 2,3 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, a Radeon Pro 560X 4GB GPU and a 1TB SSD, it takes more than 1 second (sometimes even 2-4 seconds) for showing the image when switching between them in Lightroom CC, not even considering applying edits. This might of course improve with some pending RAW updates etc., but it is a considerable increase on performance demand over the 24mp M10-P files that are instantly loaded and edited on the same machine.

The in-camera JPG conversion looks pretty nice to me. Without any adjustments, I feel that colours render nicely and the contrast seems well suited to make objects stand out with the APO-SUMMICRON lens, even at aperture 5.6. with only very litte bokeh. I attached 2 full resolution JPGs here that have not been adjusted. It’s what comes straight out of the Leica M10-R for those that are interested: test shot 1, test shot 2.

The camera will go on sale on July 20, so if you are interested, now is the time to get in line…

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